Siemens & Global Fund accelerate AI adoption to diagnose TB

All companies will also work to provide free licences and train healthcare workers as AI processes are rolled into their workflows.
Siemens Healthineers and Global Fund are aiming to work together to accelerate the adoption of AI in order to better diagnose Tuberculosis worldwide

Siemens Healthineers and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) announced a partnership at the World Health Summit that aims to accelerate the use of AI in diagnosing tuberculosis (TB).

TB is a preventable, treatable and curable infectious disease that is on the rise globally. One person with active, untreated TB can spread the disease to as many as 15 other people in a year, so early detection is key.

The two organisations will collaborate to speed up AI adoption concerning chest X-rays to improve efficiency and accuracy. With AI, routine scans can be read faster - which means that more people could be screened for TB and previously undetected cases could be diagnosed.

Working to bring quality healthcare to everyone

Siemens Healthineers is a German company that provides healthcare solutions and services. It was spun off from its parent company Siemens in 2017, which retains a 75% stake.

It is committed to finding new ways to bring quality healthcare to as many people as possible, regardless of location.

The partnership with the Global Fund will initially focus on Indonesia’s TB cases, as these count for 9% of all global cases of the disease and less than half of infected people have treatment. Both companies will work with Qure.AI, which is a company that uses deep-learning technology to automate the interpretation of radiology examinations. 

All companies will also work to provide free licences and train healthcare workers as AI processes are rolled into their workflows. AI also aims to enable trained radiologists who are not on-site to read scans, which will bring screening to remote areas that were previously not covered.

One person with active, untreated TB can spread the disease to as many as 15 other people in a year, so early detection is key.

“We continue to push technology to find innovative tools for diagnosis,” said Siemens Healthineers Chief Executive Bernd Montag. “A century ago, it was fitting massive X-ray machines into buses for mobile screening. Today, we harness expertise in AI to supercharge screening programs for more precise, earlier TB diagnosis for a greater number of people.”

AI as a tool to help transform healthcare solutions

The Global Fund in particular provides the largest share (76%) of all international financing for TB. In countries where the Global Fund invests, TB deaths reduced by 16% between 2002 and 2021. 

In 2022, TB programs accelerated their recovery, not only erasing the losses of 2020 but exceeding the pre-COVID-19 results of 2019. Compared to 2021, The Global Fund registered an increase of 1.4 million more people diagnosed and treated, highlighting progress.

In recent years, AI has been an instrumental tool in accelerating diagnoses, aiding early disease detection and as a result, improving patient outcomes. It helps doctors and healthcare workers, enabling them to provide care faster.

Cutting-edge AI technology emerged as a breakthrough in cancer treatment earlier in 2023 and now works to significantly reduce waiting times for patients undergoing radiotherapy. The programme, developed by Addenbrooke's Hospital and Microsoft, demonstrated an impressive accuracy rate of 90%.

Similarly, scientists have used AI to discover a new antibiotic, abaucin, that was reported to show useful activity and kill off deadly superbugs in May 2023. The AI helped narrow down thousands of potential chemicals to just a handful that could be tested in the laboratory. Cutting out laborious work for human workforces means that life-changing healthcare solutions can get to patients faster.

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